Judge Aileen Cannon has decided that, for now, former President Donald Trump will still have a May 2024 trial before her on charges of mishandling classified documents.
The classified records indictment has loomed over Trump’s candidacy particularly because of the questions it’s raised – with substantial known witnesses and even audio evidence – about how casually Trump treated national security information after his presidency.
Trump has pushed repeatedly to move this federal criminal trial and others past the November 2024 presidential election, citing how busy his and his lawyers’ schedule is, his demands on the campaign trail and the complexities of the cases.
Cannon has appeared to be sympathetic, and at this time has moved some deadlines–particularly related to the use of classified material in the case–back leading up to the trial, according to her order issued Friday.
But the judge says she will revisit other deadlines including potentially the trial date in her court in early March, days before Trump is set to go to trial for the first time as a criminal defendant in Washington, DC, a separate federal case related to his actions after the 2020 election.
By the time the March 1 hearing arrives, Cannon’s new schedule leaves few issues in the case to argue about, making it possible for the trial to happen before the election.
Still, the judge highlighted in her order on Friday morning how the case had “an unusually high volume of unclassified and classified” evidence that Trump’s team would have access to from prosecutors to prepare for trial, and that
“Most significantly, the quantity of discovery in this case remains exceedingly voluminous, even more so than initially thought. To be sure, the Special Counsel has taken various steps to produce discovery on a regular basis. But even with these efforts, discovery has increased sizably from initial estimates,” Cannon wrote in the order. “These evolving and unforeseen circumstances require a reevaluation” of the time Trump’s lawyers have to work through the evidence.
They are able to ask again later to move the trial date, if they wish, the judge said.
Cannon also wrote that she understood how Trump’s team believed they were so swamped with court deadlines they couldn’t prepare adequately for the trial in Florida.
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“Although the Special Counsel is correct that the trajectory of these matters potentially remains in flux, the schedules as they currently stand overlap substantially with the deadlines in this case, presenting additional challenges to ensuring Defendant Trump has adequate time to prepare for trial and to assist in his defense,” Cannon said.
Some of the work around classified evidence in the case can only take place in special facilities, called SCIFs, in the courthouse complex in Miami or other locations. Trump’s legal team has visited the facility a handful of times, with the former president joining them there for the first time early last week, according to previous CNN reporting.
This story has been updated with additional developments.
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